Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association December 2018 Newsletter)


Putting Fisheries Management in Perspective

In light of a good deal of misinformation that is being provided to fishing clubs and anglers in general, I feel that it is important to share some suggestions to clubs that want to get involved in decision making. We need to make fisheries management decisions based on informed science. We need to seek out a variety of opinions and accurate information before we take a public stand. We need to question the motivation and inherent biases of people who come to us claiming to be experts. It is also important to ask who pays someone and what specific agenda to they bring to the table. JCAA has always looked to the science and to experts who are not being paid to support specific ideas. We also feel it is important for us to represent the concerns of all anglers. There are many varied groups and opinions within the recreational community, from anglers who only catch and release to anglers who feed their families with their catch. Our job is to make sure the stocks are sustainable for all anglers. We need to respect everyone’s perspective. All fishing results in the death of fish, whether it is through hook and release mortality or taking a fish home for dinner. JCAA’s job is to help manage fisheries for all anglers and to make sure our decision makers understand the value of all types of recreational fishing. When we add together all the various types of anglers, we have statistics that convince our politicians that recreational fishing has huge economic value for New Jersey. As we learned from Mike Pentony, Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Region for NOAA at the JCAA dinner, New Jersey is third in the nation in salt water fishing trips and third in the number of anglers. A majority of those anglers harvest fish for personal consumption. Again, the responsibility to make sure that we have a sustainable fishery that supports all members of the recreational community lies with all of us; JCAA and its member clubs, individual anglers, and fisheries managers at the state and federal level.

Summer Flounder, Black Sea Bass and Scup

Read NOAA’s release below. As it stands now, we will have a slight increase in summer flounder harvest, black sea bass and scup will remain the same for 2019. There will be much more work done on black sea bass and summer flounder when the stock assessment is available and the recreational data is synthesized. We should have that information by early spring.

A Little Bit of History

Last month’s newspaper had a history less on from 1995 on what JCAA did to keep the EEZ closed for striped bass fishing. I have been cleaning my office and found a DVD that had the video of the signing of the striped bass game fish bill at the JCAA meeting in 1991. I will make copies available to all the clubs.

I also found two articles from 1995 that were important to New Jersey’s environment concerns. One deals with winning the battle against EPA, the Port Authority and the Army Corp of Engineers on dumping Agent Orange contaminated material in the ocean. The other article discusses the beginning of the Barnegat Bay Partnership, EPA’s estuary program to protect Barnegat Bay.

Score One for the Ocean
by Tome Fote, (reprinted from December 1995)

On November 11, 1995, District Court Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise ruled that the original permit issued by the Army Corp. of Engineers on May 23, 1993 with the consent of the EPA region 2 to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was issued in violation of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act and is therefore unlawful and invalid.

What does this mean? The permit that was issued that allowed millions of cubic yards of contaminated dredge spoil in the ocean should never have been issued according to current regulations. It is too late to get this contaminated material out of the ocean. But this ruling should have an effect on future requests and keeps this permit from being extended to cover additional dumping. The lawyers representing the Corp., EPA, Port Authority and the government all contended that it was not possible to extend this permit and no ruling was necessary. Our lawyers pointed out that companion regulations would have allowed the Corp. to grant an extension by request. This was another example of the Corp. selectively quoting regulations to suit their own purposes. Because of the earlier Appellate Court ruling requiring Judge Debevoise to review his decision and because of the continued misleading statements by the Corp., the Port Authority and EPA, our attorneys were able to make a successful case for overrule.

Does this victory guarantee that no further dumping of contaminated material in the ocean will take place? NO! The battle now moves into the regulatory process. The ruling only guaranteed that the Corp. and the Port must work within EPA’s existing regulations. There is already pressure on the EPA by the Corp. and the Port to amend the regulations to allow new permits to dump contaminated material in the ocean. The material doesn’t change, but if the regulations do, we will be told its safe and permits will be issued. This will affect permits for dredging throughout the United States. Clean Ocean Action and the Coastal Alliance will keep us informed about potential changes. We need to be ready to act immediately when necessary.

I must thank Clean Ocean Action for leading this battle and putting this lawsuit together. When other groups dropped out because they felt this suit was not a winner, JCAA stuck with Clean Ocean Action and supported their efforts. In particular I would like to thank Cindy Zipf. Cindy took a lot of heat about her determination to continue this lawsuit. It would have been much easier to accept the original ruling, sit on the sidelines and complain. That’s not Cindy’s style and that’s why she has won the respect of the fishermen and all of us who support protecting the environment. I would also like to thank Gordon Litwin and his firm for all their pro bono work and Susan Kennedy, the attorney for Clean Ocean Action and the Littoral Society. How great that Susan’s first case was a winner. If ever there was a David and Goliath situation it was the scene I saw when I walked into Judge Debevoise’s Newark courtroom. There must have been twenty attorneys representing the Corp., the Port, the EPA and the unions. The environmental community was represented by two, one a recent law school graduate. Money was beaten by hard work, talent and being right. This should confirm our belief that it is worth the effort to take on big money and big government. We can’t win every time but we will never win unless we are willing to take a risk and put in the effort. This has been a difficult year for those of us who care about the environment. Our current federal and state legislatures are not demonstrating a commitment to the environment. This victory is the best Christmas present.

The Future of Barnegat Bay
by Marie De Saules, (reprinted from December 1995)

Barnegat Bay is an estuary located in Ocean County stretching from the Point Pleasant canal to Little Egg Harbor inlet. An estuary is a coastal area where fresh water from rivers and streams mixes with salt water from the ocean. Over 400,000 people live along the shores of Barnegat Bay, this population doubles in the summer. It is also home to many plants, animals, fish, crustaceans and shell fish. The bay provides spawning grounds, nurseries and an abundant food source to support its habitants and with its natural filtering system protects it’s marine life and the quality of the water. The bay also provides a natural barrier to protect the estuaries and land areas from severe impact due to coastal storms and flooding. The economy of the Barnegat Bay area is based upon its natural beauty, recreational activities and the bountiful marine life that it produces.

In July 1995, Barnegat Bay was designated by the Environmental Protection Agency for inclusion into the National Estuary Program, which was established by an act of Congress to protect and restore our coastal estuaries. The main goals of the program are to protect and improve water quality and enhance its natural living resources.

On December 2, 1995 a kick-off workshop was held in Toms River N.J. An open invitation was extended to all the residents of Ocean County to join in an ambitious effort to help develop a comprehensive conservation and management plan (CCMP) for the bay. New Jersey Departmental of Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Shinn and Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox welcomed about 100 people to the workshop. Also in attendance were Congressman James Saxton, Ocean County Freeholder Director Jack Kelly, other officials from county and local governments and concerned citizens representing many user groups of Barnegat Bay.

This workshop was held to set up a list of suggestions and projects to help develop a sound management program for the bay. $1,500,000 of E.P.A. funds will be used over the next 3 years for science, education and environmental problems along the 50 mile stretch of Barnegat Bay.

Robert Tudor of the Department of Environmental Protection advised taking local control of matters now handled by state and federal agencies. He and others stressed that the process of management must be completely open to the public.

Theresa Fowler, a State D.E.P. planner, said the estuary program is soliciting people to join its citizen advisory committee, local government committee, and science and technical committee.

Those interested in participating please contact:

Theresa Fowler
N.J. Dept. of Environmental Protection
Office of Environmental Planning
CN 418
Trenton NJ, 08625-0418

Report illegal dumping to:

Ocean County Prosecutors Office

Other participating groups and persons are:

  • Barnegat Bay Watershed Association, 908-505-3671
  • Jersey Coast Anglers Association, 908-506-6565
  • Alliance for a Living Ocean, 609-492-0222
  • Scott Tyrrell NJDEP Water Supply, 609-292-2957
  • Joe Mattle NJDEP Sewage, 609-777-0172
  • Elizabeth Rosenblatt, NJDEP nonpoint Source pollution, 609-633-1349
NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specs
NOAA Press Release, November 15, 2018

NOAA Fisheries proposes 2019 catch limits for the summer flounder and black sea bass fisheries and maintains the 2019 scup specifications that were established in 2017.

The proposed summer flounder specifications would result in a 16-percent increase in the recreational harvest limit. Due to commercial overages that occurred in 2017, an accountability measure will be applied to the commercial quota that would result in a commercial quota that is similar to that in place for 2018.

For black sea bass, we propose to implement the same specifications that were in place for 2018. We also propose reopening the February black sea bass recreational fishery.

The scup specifications for 2019 are identical to those in place for 2018. We are also proposing an increase in the incidental possession limit for scup moratorium permit holders using small mesh from April 15-June 15.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission may make mid-year adjustments to these specifications once updated assessment information is available.

Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. You may also submit comments through regular mail to:

Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 019
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